Decision details

Families First for Children Pathfinder in Wirral and The Early Help Alliance

Decision Maker: Director of Children, Families and Education

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


To agree to a variation to the current Early Help Alliance contract to enable them to deliver the following projects as part of Families First for Children Pathfinder programme:

• Befriending – £100k
• Parent Forums – 25k
• Advocacy and co-production – £280k and 50k
• Consultancy/Supporting Schools - £10k

The variation is for total value of £465,000 for the period from 1st August 2024 – 31st March 2025.

Reasons for the decision:

• In April 2022 Wirral Council commissioned the first children’s services alliance for a period of 5 years (with 2 x 1-year extension options), with the aim of:

1. Delivering of a variety of supportive experiences which Wirral families told us would help them to thrive.
2. Coordination of backbone functions to grow and sustain the model for the future.
3. Helping to provide online tools and resources for families.
4. Supporting a growing network of wider organisations and partners under the Family Toolbox ‘memberships mark’.

• In April 2024 the Department for Education announced that Wirral had been selected as one of only seven local authorities in the country to be a Families First for Children Pathfinder.

• The Pathfinder is part of the government’s programme of reform for children’s services as part of the Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy, which seeks to help families to overcome challenges so they can stay together and thrive.

• Wirral have an opportunity to develop, test and learn new ways of working and build upon our current good practice to inform and help shape how family help, children’s social care and support for family networks will be delivered to children, young people and families across the country.

• One of the four key elements of the Pathfinder programme is to establish local multi-disciplinary family help services, bringing together early help and child in need provision, to ensure families with multiple needs receive earlier, seamless support so that they can overcome challenges, stay together and thrive.

• The work of the Family Toolbox Alliance, and some of its member organisations (currently 97) is aligned to the objectives of the Families First for Children Pathfinder programme.

• This additional funding provided to the Alliance will enable them to expand their current provision whilst underpinning Wirral Council’s objective for the Pathfinder programme through ‘testing and learning’ new services for families.

• As the Early Help Family Toolbox contract is already in place with the council, the additional funds from the Pathfinder Programme mean that the new areas of work can be mobilised quickly through direct delivery by the Alliance organisations, and through the Family Toolbox Membership Grant programme to bring the expertise and specialisms of a number of other Wirral voluntary organisations.

• This contract variation meets Contract Procedure Rules and has been agreed by Wirral Council procurement team.

Alternative options considered:

Due to the timescales for delivery of the Pathfinder programme, and the scope of these projects falling within the Early Help Alliance current contract, no other options have been considered.

Publication date: 05/07/2024

Date of decision: 05/07/2024